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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM   AND   SURREALISM               495

their part, from Wilhelminean officers to the great industrialists
who throw in their lot with Hitler to the working men of Berlin
with their families. There is no thrusting forward of the author's
convictions; the narration is all plain statement; the facts speak;
the indictment lies beneath the lines. Drastically realistic as these
novels seem if the bare lines of the narration are followed, they
are really deliberately unrealistic; they belong to existentialism
because they render a tragic-heroic view of life based on insight
into what is commonly conceived as 'reality'. That is, they are
transrealistic; not the story moves us, but the sense of the story,
the grip of the horror that life is as it is lived under the oppression
of dictators. The Marxist-Leninist faith of Anna Seghers is still
evidenced in her Novellen, with minutiae selected, sifted, and
historically verified; in her Hoch^eit von Haiti (1949), for instance,
we see how the French revolution stirs the negro slaves in the
French colonies, while the three short tales of Die Unie (1950) -
dedicated to Stalin - show the workings of the Communist doc-
trine in China, France, and the Soviet Union.

If one is to be critically fair it would be impossible to say that
the fanatical fighter in the opposite camp is more convincing than
Anna Seghers. REINHOLD SCHNEIDER (1903-1958), son of a Pro-
testant father and a Catholic mother but brought up as a Catholic,
is not a religious propagandist, he is rather a voice calling all the
peoples to repentance, an apostle of the universal brotherhood of
men as decreed by God. In Verhullter Tag. I^ebensbericht (1956) he
has stretched the story of his life from his boyhood at Baden-
Baden. The university was banned to him, but in his daily ride in
the bus to his business job he read voraciously, Spanish classical
dramas by preference. From Schopenhauer he passed to Nietzsche;
but the course of his life and thinking was changed, he says, by
Unamuno, that 'tragic existentialist* whose philosophy had been
changed by Kierkegaard and the Spanish mystics. An essay of
Unamuno on Coimbra directed his attention to Portugal; he learned
Portuguese, spent some time in the country, and wrote his books
Portugal Em Reisetagebuch (1931) and Das Leiden des Camoes oder
Untergangund Volkndung derportugiesischn Macht (1931); the latter is
in substance an examination of the toot causes of the downfall of
Portugal in the sixteenth, century. This was his first proof of
competence in what he was to make his own special province in
literature: to show that the disasters of the present have their